Everett Dobson walked into Chesapeake Energy Arena for Game 1 of the NBA Finals and stopped.
He looked sideways and then looked up.
The native of Cheyenne, OK, population 801, is among the minority owners of a team known worldwide as the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I couldn't take my eyes off the arena itself, and looking at the fans,” Dobson said of the crowd of 18,203. “All the way around the arena, I just looked at the excitement.
“I was just reflecting I guess on how we got to there. I'm still just in awe of what Clay (Bennett), Sam (Presti) and the coaching staff have done to assemble this team. I think the nation is recognizing what our fans have recognized; we have an exciting group of positive individuals that are representing us.”
Sports and business
In business, his family's telephone company was started as Paradise Telephone by his grandfather, E.R. Dobson, in 1936. In 1989, Everett Dobson founded Dobson Communications Corp. At the time of its sale to AT&T in 2007, the company was operating in 17 states.
Dobson, a graduate of Cheyenne High School in western Oklahoma, graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1981.
He was a four-year golf letterman at SWOSU where he was a three-time All-Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference selection and two-time All-District Nine honoree. Dobson was a member of the 1980 SWOSU golf team that won the NAIA District Nine championship title and qualified for the NAIA national tourney.
Dobson was inducted into Southwestern's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.
In addition to being a minority owner of the Thunder, he is involved in thoroughbred racing. He is a co-owner of the Thoroughbred bay stallion Caleb's Posse, winner of the $1 million Dirt Mile at the 2011 Breeders' Cup. While he's had many enjoyable moments related to sports, Dobson has never been on a ride like this.
Signs of Thunder
“I drove out of my neighborhood this morning, and a guy had put up a big banner, the Finals flag,” said Dobson, 52, who lives in Oklahoma City. “He was hanging it from his second-story rafters. I was like ‘Wow.'
“It seems like every other vehicle you pass has a Thunder flag, and they're sitting there with their Thunder hat on or T-shirt; it's just amazing.”
And he knows by personal experience, the enthusiasm is widespread.
Dobson makes trips to Kentucky for his thoroughbred horse business, “and Kentuckians are nuts about their basketball.” He goes there trying to concentrate on the horse industry, and since many know about his ownership with the Thunder, they want to talk NBA basketball.
“That is cool,” he said. “It's a lot of fun.”
Dobson recently received two cards in one envelope from a grandmother whom he had been introduced to at a thoroughbred sale last year in Lexington, Ky.
The handwritten messages included “We proudly wore our Thunder shirts to a playoff game in L.A., our home. ... Our very best wishes for continued success with this remarkably talented and classy team.”
“And when I go to Cheyenne, that's what they want to talk about, too,” said Dobson, who has a ranch at Cheyenne. “And I love talking about the Thunder.”